“Will you ride in the back seat with me on the way home, Steppy?”
I looked towards my wife, who smiled and shrugged as if to reiterate the I Told You So’s that she had been littering our conversation with throughout our visit at her sister’s house. Lil’ Step only left my side while we were inside for the moments it took to retrieve her backpack. She didn’t say much during our visit with her aunt, but she also hadn’t let go of my hand or taken her head from resting on my shoulder. These tiny gestures spoke volumes to me about her resilient ability to forgive my extensive absences over the better part of the last year. I felt guilty and uncomfortable while being bathed in her affections, as my own thoughts were wandering towards the aching urge to get high as soon as possible with the contents of the bolt-stash resting heavily in my pocket.
“Sure… I’ll ride in back with you.” I opened the door to the car and Lil’ Step threw her backpack in and piled in after it, sliding to the far side and pulling her seatbelt in place while looking after me expectantly to do the same. The afternoon was dwindling, and I was thankful that my wife’s sister had provided us with a light dinner of cold sandwiches and potato chips before we left. This meant that there was one less chore to complete upon our arrival home, where I could start drinking beer while my wife drank her wine after Lil’ Step went to bed. The sooner my wife opened that bottle of wine, the sooner she would succumb to its effects and find her own way to sleep so I could be alone with the dope.
The ride home was uneventful and to my relief, Lil’ Step was snoring softly when we pulled into the driveway. I nudged her with my elbow when the car came to a stop. “We’re home snoozie.”
“Good,” she replied sleepily. “Can you get my stuff? I’m going to go to bed.” Suddenly her eyes widened, as if she realized for the first time that I was in the car with her. “You’re not going anywhere, right? You’re going to be here when I wake up?” My wife turned around from the driver’s seat to take part in this conversation.
“That’s the plan, Lil’ Step. I’m not planning on going anywhere.” I reassured her.
“I won’t let him,” her mother insisted, casting her eyes sternly in my direction.
“Okay, good. I’m pretty tired…” she fumbled with the door handle, stumbled out of the car and towards the darkness of the waiting house. I gathered the backpack, beer and wine, and followed them from the vehicle. When we had all navigated the sidewalk path from the driveway to the house, we let ourselves in, and that was the last I saw of my daughter for the evening. I flipped light switches throughout the house, and made room for the beer in the fridge. As I was about to plant the bottle of wine in the ice bucket in the freezer to give it a quick chill, my wife’s hand intercepted it.
“That’s not necessary… this stuff is pretty good at room temperature.” She slid the bottle out of the bag, and retrieved a cork-screw from a drawer and opened her bottle. I ripped the cardboard box of beer open, and found a lukewarm beer covered in condensation sweat. I popped the can open and drank deeply from the contents.
“I wish I could say the same about PBR.” We both laughed and sat at the kitchen table. My wife poured a glass of wine into a tall, neon-green, plastic cup. Nearly half the bottle of wine seemed to fit in the unusual wine glass, but she made quick work of the contents. We sat silently in the dimly-lit kitchen. My wife drank her sweet, red wine, and I suffered through three more beers until the refrigerator started to do its job cooling the cans.
“Are you going to be alright, love?” My wife asked me while filling her cup a second time. The contents of the bottle had been reduced to a splash left at the bottom, which she poured directly into her mouth. “They really ought to make these bottles bigger.”
“I don’t think they intended it to be drunk from plastic kid’s cups, though…” We both laughed while she waited for a response to her question.
“Who knows…” I responded hastily, finishing off the last of my fourth beer. “I hope I’ll be okay… but let’s see how it plays out. I have court next week, and they’ll probably put me on probation… or make me do some jail time. I’m trying not to think about it, though. Can we just not think about it?” I got up from the table and fetched another beer from the quickly diminishing case in the fridge.
“I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m just worried about you.” She drank from her cup and wiped her mouth as wine dribbled down her chin. “You haven’t even talked with me about how you feel without having meth around the last couple of days.”
“I feel like shit. How’s that?” I sat back down at the table, opened the beer in my hand and drained more than half of its contents before I continued. “I don’t even know how I feel about it really. I want to get high. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Of course it’s not what I want to hear, but I think you should talk about it… don’t you?” My wife’s hands reached across the table to take mine in an attempt to console whatever I was feeling.
“I don’t know… If I talk about it, it just makes it all that much worse. I kinda just want to get drunk right now.” I really wanted her to get drunk and pass out.
“That’s fine, baby… I just want you to know that I’ll listen to you, even if all you need to bitch about it.” She pulled her hands away from mine, and drank from her glass. “I’m not going to be able to stay awake much longer though, you know how wine does me. Are you gonna be awake for awhile?”
“Probably… I think I’ll just finish these beers and surf around on the computer for awhile. Is that okay?” I looked toward her hoping to find acceptance for this decision in her eyes. I had lucked out.
“Yeah… that’s fine with me.” She finished the contents of her obnoxious wine glass and got up from the table to deposit the empty cup in the sink. “I’m going to shower and try to get the mud off of my knees from our adventure in the park. That was pretty fun, by the way… I’ll be in bed if you want to try it again in cleaner confines.”
“Sounds good. Maybe I’ll take you up on that in a little while. I’m sorry if I’m acting like a bear.” I drank the last of my beer as she turned towards me.
“I’m just glad you’re home. I’m sure it’ll take some time for you to feel normal. Just don’t get squirrely on us. I don’t think your Lil’ Step would understand if you went running again.” My wife’s voice was starting to slur a little.
“I’ll do my best.” I was frustrated and anxious to open the bolt. “I’m not going anywhere, okay?”
“I hope not.” She walked the short distance from the sink to the table and wrapped her arms around my neck and head in an awkward hug. “I love you so much. Drink your beer and come to bed. I’m about to be drunk I think… that might play out to your advantage.”
Probably more than you realize, I thought to myself. “You bet. Go shower.” She disappeared from the kitchen into our bedroom, and moments later I heard the sound of the shower starting, and the sliding glass shower door open and close. I got up from the table, grabbed the torn cardboard case of beer from the fridge, and peered through the bedroom door to see my wife’s silhouette behind the cloudy, soap-stained door of the shower. I turned back towards the kitchen table and set the case of beer down and retrieved the bolt from my pocket. My hands were trembling as I fumbled with the large nut on the threads of the bolt. After several turns of the nut, the bolt split into two pieces and I tapped the open piece on the table softly.
Out of the large cavity of the stash slid a single unused syringe with an orange cap, and a large bag of dope. There must have been two grams in that twist-tied baggie. A smile broadened across my dumbstruck face, as I hurried my shaking hands to put the syringe back into the bolt, and tighten the nut. I dropped the bolt back into my pocket and stared at the baggie on the table. The crystals were large and looked like shards of glass. This wasn’t the farm-dope I had become accustomed too, this was ICE… the holy grail of meth to poor country folks like my meth buddies. My mouth was watering as I turned the twist tie of the bag to expose the contents. I dumped a couple of crystals onto the table in front of me and fumbled for the lighter in my pocket. Using the flat part of the side of the lighter I crushed the shards of dope into a powder. Looking around the kitchen I saw a cup full of bendy straws next to the microwave that could be used as tooters. I grabbed a bright pink straw and a dirty steak knife from sink. I chopped the straw in half, watching the bendy part fall to the kitchen floor. I raced back to the table and bent over toward the small pile of dope I had created and put the straw deep into my nose and inhaled the pile. I sat down as the anticipation of the impending buzz overwhelmed my conscious thoughts. I replaced the twist-tie on the small plastic baggie just as the shower stopped running in the other room.
It was too late. I was high again. Butterflies were fluttering in my head and stomach. Nothing else mattered. I pocketed the baggie of dope, and grabbed my case of beer and made my way to the computer in the front of the house. I grabbed two beers and set them in front of the computer monitor while tapping several keys on the keyboard breathing life into the sleeping computer. The monitor brightened as I opened a beer with one hand and navigated the mouse with the other hand to open a blank document on Microsoft Word.
I began typing…
When I Met Him...